In keeping with their tradition of murder mysteries (check later in the season for Agatha Christie’s Go Back For Murder), Vancouver’s Metro Theatre recently launched their production of The 39 Steps.
When the original production of The 39 Steps opened in 2006, in London, it was immediately a hit. A fast-paced farcical spy thriller based on a 1935 Alfred Hitchcock movie performed by 4 actors playing over 140 parts, audiences couldn’t get enough of the physical comedy and fast-paced humour. Having seen the show in New York, I take every opportunity to see it here in Vancouver.
The hilarious script begins when bored Londoner Richard Hannay becomes anything but after a mysterious secret agent, Annabella Schmidt, enters his life and brings with her all the drama of a spy thriller. Hannay finds himself running for his life across Scotland while trying to solve a murder and decipher mysterious allusions to the “39 Steps”. Though the play is riddled with Hitchcock references, the plot holds strong without any prior knowledge of his work.
In Metro Theatre’s production, Jenny McLaren is the driving force on stage. She possesses a distinct maturity and confidence on stage, and has a knack for comedic timing. Additionally, all her accents were spot on – an important factor when playing so many characters from different countries. What was missing from the Metro’s production was the tightness and sharpness this script requires to be funny. Jokes were drawn out, transitions were slow, lighting cues were late. The saving grace of the production was the modest charm of the Metro Theatre, which suits the play perfectly even if the play itself didn’t.
Metro Theatre presents The 39 Steps September 20 to October 11, Wednesday through Saturday night, with matinees on September 28 and October 5.
Tickets are $23 for adults or $20 for students and seniors. Every Wednesday you can buy two tickets for $32, and every Thursday you can buy two tickets for $34. You can purchase tickets at 604-266-7191 or online at tickets.metrotheatre.com.